Impressive Interviewing

Julie Shenkman
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Interviewing with confidence is a bit like parachuting. Granted, not just like parachuting, but they are similar in the fact that both require confidence, practice and perfect timing or you could fall on your face. For those keen on giving a spectacular interview, here are a few helpful hints to tip the scales in your favor and see that you land safely in the seat of the job you want.

When you prepare for an interview, don't just assume that picking out a power suit and sticking your CV in your bag is all there is to it. Those are two very important things to begin, but a few added efforts and doing some homework before hand can help more than you may have realized.

"Hello - worthy job applicant speaking."
When an employer rings and asks you to come for an interview, your most polite and interested telephone voice is essential! Should you need to ask for directions or a different date, do so in the same manner that you would if you were in that person's office. A pleasant telephone voice might just be one of the things that the boss finds important for the job.

"A funny thing happened on the way to the interview . . ."
This type of opener is only acceptable if it is not followed by an excuse as to why you are late! Being late for an interview in itself tells the employer that you care very little about the job. If, however, you were tardy because of an unavoidable emergency, then . . . well, your torn clothing, black eye and wet hair will speak for you. Joking aside, aim to be about 5 or 10 minutes early. You will make a much better first impression this way.

Speaking of first impressions, here are a few basics: 1.) Look your very best. 2.) Smile and be polite 3.) Don't ask how much the job pays - not yet! Okay, so you already knew all of that, that's good. Let's get to the really useful parts!

Shake with poise, not with fear
If you smile and offer a respectable handshake upon meeting the boss, then you are already on the right track. If you stare at the floor and wait for him to approach you, you are only showing that you feel uncomfortable and nervous and perhaps lacking the necessary confidence for the job. Nervousness is not always a bad thing, but when you let it control you during the interview, you may come away feeling embarrassed and let down. If you do not feel as brave as you'd like to feel - dig deeper - it's there somewhere! After all, you did apply for the job and they did call you, didn't they? See? Half the battle is already over.

After you greet the interviewer with self-assuredness, try making a little basic conversation. Small talk is quite common during the first few minutes of an interview as both parties try to assess each other and determine the mood the interview will adopt. You needn't think of something profoundly witty to say, but you might want to try to make the interviewer feel that you are comfortable with the situation. Whether you compliment the decor of the office, talk about the weather or how glad you are to be there for the interview, it doesn't matter. What matters is giving the impression that you are an easy person to get along with.

"Go ahead! Ask me anything!"
A great way to avoid being nervous is to make a list of some common questions asked by interviewers. If you already know how you want to reply, you'll find that much of your anxiety disappears. Here are a few sample questions to practice answering before you go:

* Why do you want to work for our company?
* What kind of career do you have planned?
* What are your strengths? weaknesses?
* What is your greatest achievement?

When you practice your replies to these questions, make sure you can answer with confidence. If your voice is sincere and your replies are intelligent, you will give the impression of someone who really knows what they want out of life. A prime candidate for the job!

It is not the interviewer's job to make sure that he tells you everything there is to know about the company. You should have a few questions for him as well. In order to prove that you really prepared for your meeting, try learning a little bit about the company itself so that you can discuss it intelligently. Here are some questions you might want to ask about the company:

* What is your biggest product or service?
* Who are your customers?
* Who are your toughest competitors?
Here are some questions pertaining to your possible employment with them:
* To whom would I be reporting?
* How is performance evaluated?
* What is the company promotion policy?
* Does the companies have developmental programs?
* How many days per week? Office hours?

Be sure that you ask your questions in courteous manner. Space them out well and always make them relevant to the topic at hand. Don't just frantically spout them off before the interviewer even has a chance to sit down. You want to sound interested and receptive, not uptight and neurotic.

The Top Ten list of what NOT to do in an interview!

An informal survey of employers around the US has produced some very useful insight as to what recruiters and bosses dislike most during interviews. Their pet peeves are as follows:

1.) disorganization
2.) sloppy dressers
3.) uninterested applicants
4.) people unable to communicate effectively
5.) people who interrupt
6.) people who fidget
7.) overly polite /insincere
8.) people who have no questions
9.) bad-mouthing others
10.) people only interested in money

Although money will be a concern, it should be the interviewer who broaches the subject first. Never call before hand or begin an interview asking how much money you will be making. You must prove your worth it before they can finally decide. So, if you give a superb interview and suit their needs, who knows, they just might feel that you are entitled and offer you a little more than they had originally planned.

When the end is in sight
It will be obvious when the interview is nearing its end. The interviewer will have no more questions for you, you will have asked all of your questions, been clever and alert, made just the right amount of chit-chat to leave a friendly impression and managed to smile genuinely all the way through. When you stand to leave, tell the interviewer that you hope he/she will consider you for the position and that you have thoroughly enjoyed meeting with him/her. Reiterate when you can be contacted if need be and thank him for his time. When you turn gracefully and saunter from the room, you should feel proud of yourself. You have just given a spectacular interview!

Just a little note to say THANKS!
If you feel you had a good interview, it is quite all right to send a "thank you" note to the interviewer. It should have a return address on the envelope and state your name, address and phone number on the inside as well. You may also want to hand write a brief personal sentence, such as: "I appreciate that you took time out of your busy schedule to meet with me." This short note will refresh the interviewer's memory and help you to make a positive last impression.

Wendy Behn is a graduate of Columbia University who now works as a freelance writer and public relations specialist. She has lived and worked all over the world, but now resides happily in Richmond, VA. Contact her at

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  • Michael L G
    Michael L G
    Great!These recommendations will help one in preparing for the interview.
  • Adelee A
    Adelee A
    Very nice tips in prep. for interview. Thank you.
  • Carolyn J
    Carolyn J
    Thank-you for the great advise and reminder.
  • Tamekia R
    Tamekia R
    I have a interview tomorrow@ 4:00 an i would like some good interview tip thank you
  •  Mary M
    Mary M
    Very helpful tips.  Thank you.
  • Sandra Q
    Sandra Q
    Exellent article!I'm sure that It will help me to do a good interview!
  • Rochelle W
    Rochelle W
    Thank you for your tips.  They are very helpful and useful.  I had an interview today and feel very confident about it, only one mistake, when asked if I had any questions, I did ask a few, but one of them was about salary.  I was told by both people who interviewed me that information was unavailable to them, so they couldn't answer that question. I hope that's not something that would ruin my chances for getting the job.  I should have read this article before the interview.
  •  Carol D
    Carol D
    Thank you for the reminders. Loved the article. Very refreshing.
  • Elva G
    Elva G
    Thanks Wendy,  Great reminders and tips.  I've relocated and finding myself on the other side the interview process. Confidence and interest are great keys to and interview.
  • ahmed k
    ahmed k
    excellent advise
  • Gayle J
    Gayle J
    Excellent article!  I have been the person conducting the interview for many years and I would agree with nearly every statement in the article.
  • Ellen Y
    Ellen Y
    Thanks, Wendy for writing this article.  It's a wonderful reminder when one hasn't been interviewed in many years. Your personality shines right through it!
  • Danny E
    Danny E
    Print a small picture of yourself  on the inside of the card. Above your name and contact information. Or create and print your own card with your picture on the front as well. Theme the card to each individual careere.
  • David H
    David H
    Excellent article, every job seeker who hasn't done an interview in a few years should read it.
  •  Lennie M
    Lennie M
    This is great advice and we all need reminders no matter what level we are on in our careers. I wish more people practiced these before they interview.
  •  Kodjo K.
    Kodjo K.
    Wonderful! You gave out all the logistics needed to attain my goals. The final work to do rely upon my own organization and discipline to hit the target. To properly get out of the interview with a good feeling, I need to be prepared through practice and perseverance.  If I am not sure of a particular question, I'll send an e-mail to the writer. Easy !!!
    These articles always assume the job seeker is straight out of college or does not have much life experience. I've interviewed people and I hate when they come in with their canned speeches. Also, knowing the salary beforehand can  eliminate wasted time for both parties. A candidate should be on time and prepared, but so should the interviewer, who never is. A candidates time is just as valuable! Let's all stop playing games and get real!
  • Joseph S
    Joseph S
    Thanks for the helpful info!
    Very impressive. Thanks!
  • Doris Maanu G
    Doris Maanu G
    Wonderful article thank you so much.    no doubt it will help me in my next interview
  • Irfan M
    Irfan M
    Good informantion was provided to me.
  • Tamara G
    Tamara G
    I,ve learn a lot by reading this, This has taught me what to look for,  and how to talk.
  •  Aura H
    Aura H
    This is an excellent article that has been very helpful for me, thanks for all your tips and information.Aura
  • Anita Samuel
    Anita Samuel
    wonderful Wendy i really enjoyed and learn a lot from this article
  • Antoinette W
    Antoinette W
    these tips have been most helpful.  I didn't realize how intense and emotional draining this process of obtaining a job position could be.  I have a lot of work to do.  Thanks and have a good day.
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